Nominated Rescue Ships For Convoys - Ships Nostalgia
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Nominated Rescue Ships For Convoys

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  #1  
Old 2nd July 2008, 21:03
Mark McShane Mark McShane is offline  
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Nominated Rescue Ships For Convoys

This is a WWII convoy related query, hopefully someone can assist or add any input.

Reading through a convoy report and the survivors reports and something that I am unaware of has popped up. In one of the survivors reports they mention that there was ships sailing in the convoy that were assigned to be rescue ships. These were not the dedicated rescue ships that were introduced later during the war, but cargo carrying merchant ships. The reporter mentions that the rescue ship that picked him up had rubbing streaks fitted to the ships side (as did all the rescue ships).
Can anyone confirm that this was indeed a standard practice to assign a ship to rescue duty.
What makes it all the more interesting is that the ship that was sunk, from which the survivor report come from was in position number 43 in the convoy. The assigned rescue ship that picked up the survivors was in position number 23. The rescue ship was also fully loaded with cargo.

Regards,

Mark
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  #2  
Old 2nd July 2008, 22:10
stan mayes stan mayes is offline  
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Mark -I never heard of ships being assigned as rescue ships.
I believed that the ship nearest the casualty would attempt rescue.
Up to the time that rescue ships were introduced I had only sailed in tankers and obviously they would not be assigned to rescue.
Escorts were often out of sight of the convoy so they could not help in rescue unless the ship was afloat for a while after being torpedoed..
The dedicated rescue ships were all heroic ships and often performed rescue in atrocious weather conditions..
Some of them were short sea passenger ships prewar and how they braved the mountainous seas in the Western Ocean was incredible..
The crews deserve the highest praise.
Stan
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  #3  
Old 2nd July 2008, 22:30
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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The reason they had rubbing strakes was the fact that most were pre war railway ships, one that has been mentioned on SN was the SS Dewsbury. If you find them in the galleries you will notice the bulwarks midships had a drop down door for when they used to carry animals thus making fairly low waisted. The crews of these ships usually referred to the rubbing strake as the belting.
Robert
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  #4  
Old 3rd July 2008, 17:38
Mark McShane Mark McShane is offline  
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Hi Robert,

The ship that I am reading about that was stated as being the nominated resuce ship was a GSN cargo ship.

Its a strange one this,

thanks for the input,

Mark
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  #5  
Old 3rd July 2008, 18:28
stan mayes stan mayes is offline  
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Mark,
Which GSN ship was that?
By the way we referred to them as 'Navvies'.
Stan
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  #6  
Old 3rd July 2008, 19:52
Mark McShane Mark McShane is offline  
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Stan,

The ship was the PETREL sailing in OG-71. Why I find this so interesting is that on the return convoy that the PETREL sailed in HG-73, it was another GSN ship, LAPWING that stopped and acted as rescue ship for the crews of the PETREL & CORTES.

When I first read about the Lapweing & Petrel I always found it odd that a ship would stop for nearly 5 hours to rescue men in the water. Discovering this info about OG-71 kind of links the whole lot up.

Regards,

Mark
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  #7  
Old 3rd July 2008, 21:45
stan mayes stan mayes is offline  
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Thankyou Mark,
They were Gibraltar convoys - I don't believe a GSN ship was ever in an Atlantic convoy.They could not carry enough fuel.
Regards -Stan
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  #8  
Old 5th July 2008, 17:44
Billy1963 Billy1963 is offline  
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I believe the standing orders were that no ship should in any event stop to pick up survivors, which would endanger their own vessel. According to Arnold Hague, this was later changed and that the "original convoy orders, printed on the sailing plan laid down that the rear ship of each column should act as a rescue ship in the event of sinking of one of the ships ahead of her"

At the time this would of been made almost impossible especially during severe weather when ships lost station or became stragglers or were forced to scatter. A lot of ships Masters disregarded these orders anyhow and their automatic reaction was to assist any fellow seaman where possible.
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  #9  
Old 5th July 2008, 18:04
stan mayes stan mayes is offline  
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Hello Billy,
You are right as many Masters of ships in convoys did assist in rescues even during atrocious weather conditions.
Some were awarded a well deserved O.B.E.
Regards Stan
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  #10  
Old 6th July 2008, 18:36
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japottinger japottinger is offline  
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Convoy rescue ships

These were specifically designated as rescue ships:
Aboyne, Accrington, Beachy, Bury, Copeland, Dewsbury, Dundee,Eddystone,
Emp. Comfort, Emp. Lifeguard, Emp. Peacemaker, Emp. Rest, Emp. Shelter,
Fastnet, Goodwin, Gothland, Hontestroom, Melrose Abbey, Perth, Pinto, Rathlin, St Clair, St Sunniva, Stockport, Tjaldur ( not used) Syrian Prince, Toward, Walmer Castle, Zaafaran, Zamalek
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  #11  
Old 6th July 2008, 19:53
Mark McShane Mark McShane is offline  
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I think that the dedicated recue ships are well known (as listed in the previous post) and I am satisfied that the ship I am talking about is definitely not one of these. As already mentioned the ship in question was a cargo ship.

An answer provided by Billy McGee answers the question

I believe the standing orders were that no ship should in any event stop to pick up survivors, which would endanger their own vessel. According to Arnold Hague, this was later changed and that the "original convoy orders, printed on the sailing plan laid down that the rear ship of each column should act as a rescue ship in the event of sinking of one of the ships ahead of her.

Thanks for all the input from everyone.

Regards,

Mark

Last edited by Mark McShane; 7th July 2008 at 14:29..
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  #12  
Old 7th July 2008, 00:10
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jaydeeare jaydeeare is offline  
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Brian Callison wrote a book ("The Bone Collectors") that featured a ship in a convoy that was dedicated to picking up survivors.

Admittedly, this is fiction, but probably based on fact.

I read this book many years ago.
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  #13  
Old 7th July 2008, 10:56
DAVIDJM DAVIDJM is offline  
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There was a World Ship Society A4 paperback book CONVOY RESCUE SHIPS 1940 -1945 by ARNOLD HAGUE which list the rescue shipand the convoys they were i. I dont know if it is still in print but you might get one in a second hand book shop.
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  #14  
Old 7th July 2008, 14:26
Mark McShane Mark McShane is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAVIDJM View Post
There was a World Ship Society A4 paperback book CONVOY RESCUE SHIPS 1940 -1945 by ARNOLD HAGUE which list the rescue shipand the convoys they were i. I dont know if it is still in print but you might get one in a second hand book shop.
Hi David,

The book is still available, it deals with the dedicated resuce ships, some of which were listed in an earlier post.

Chers,

Mark
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  #15  
Old 8th July 2008, 22:13
amanda davies amanda davies is offline  
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for general info, the GSN ships DIDNT have enough fuel for these convoys either! which is why OG-71 was rerouted TWICE and brought it within range of the spotter planes whith devastating consequences.

the Stork was only 787 tones and prior to this convoy had only been used for UK coastal, France and the channel Isles routes. My Grandfather ( 1st Mate of the Stork) had been on seven GSN ships before the war and I suspect that the Crews all knew each other. They had all been to Hell and back and were probably hacked off with being blasted out the water. You must get to a point where you "dont give a dam! "
The captain of one of these ships got his ear chewed for breaking radio silence dispite having been hit and sinking fast.

I for one, would love to know the actual content of that radio call!

According to my Father, who was with GSN in the 50's many of GSN's ships were fittied with rubbing strakes as standard.
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  #16  
Old 9th July 2008, 09:10
Mark McShane Mark McShane is offline  
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Hi Amanda,

I think the incident of the GSN ships Master using the wireless occurred in convoy HG-73. On the morning of the 25th September, Lapwing heard a torpedo breaking the surface ahead and travelling towards the ship. They sent out a wireless message to the convoy Commodore, informing himof this. The following day HMS Fowey came alongside and told them that they should not have broken radio silence.

Regards,

Mark
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  #17  
Old 9th July 2008, 11:46
amanda davies amanda davies is offline  
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sorry, I stand corrected Mark.

seems like the Rubbing strakes were most likley fitted as standard but that doesn't really answer the original question of weither it was the offically nominated ship or not.
The book nightmare convoy may hold some clue. Although this deals with OG-71 and not HG-73 I think it does list the rescue ships some of these ships were on HG-73 but the confusion begins because there are several conflicting reports. The survivors of the Stork are reported to have been picked up by one of the flower class corvettes(wallflower) and taken to Gib' (24 august)but the OG-71 convoy is claimed to be the only out bound convoy to NOT reach it's destination and was abandoned and went to Lisbon so of the ships that were on OG-71 that returned on HG-73 May well have joined it half way thru. Convoyweb suggests that the cervantes ( lisbon) and the Petrel (oporto ) didnt make it to Gib' but it appears that the Lapwing did. If nominated rescue ships were appointed at the out set of a convoy then the Lapwing could still have been a designated rescue ship.

I just have to work out how a survivor from the Stork gets taken to Gib on the wallflower but is offically lost on the Petrel. dispite other reports stating that he was sunk on the Petrel rescued by the lapwing and then lost on her. It would seem more logical that he was on the Lapwing from the outset of HG-73 but I guess I need the final crew lists to answer that one!
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  #18  
Old 9th July 2008, 14:37
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Rescue ship

Name ST. CLAIR
Construction STEEL
Type STEAMER, PASSENGER, CARGO, LS
Date 1937
Official Number 165247
Description Yard Number: 742
Shipbuilding and Shipping Record, January 7 1937 'an outstanding feature of the construction is accommodation for 420 passengers. There are commodious first and second class dining rooms, smoke rooms and lounges. A complete Thermotank system is fitted for ventilating and heating all public rooms and cabins'.
Maiden Voyage 6th May 1937
Master: Captain Wm. Leask, DSC
Port of Registry: Aberdeen
Routes: Leith - Aberdeen, Orkney & Shetland
1940 - 1945 requisitioned by Admiralty as HMS Baldur and took part in the British occupation of Iceland and stationed at Rekjavik as a base and accommodation ship until October 1943. Then converted at Aberdeen to a convoy rescue ship.
1945-56 refitted and converted to oil burning engine.
30th March to 1st April 1967 - Final voyage, was also final voyage of a North Company passenger steamship.
Scrapped by Van Heyghen Freres, Bruges, 1967.
Builder Hall Russell
Shipowner North of Scotland & Orkney & Shetland Steam Navigation Company
Dimensions Overall: 16 3/6 x 38 1/12 x 250 7/12ft
Gross Tonnage: 1637ton

Text and photo used with permission courtesy of http://www.aberdeenships.com
Regards
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File Type: jpg St. Clair.jpg (92.2 KB, 31 views)
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